Politicians rely too heavily on advisors in emergencies like the pandemic, David Davis says

5 August 2020, 13:47 | Updated: 5 August 2020, 14:06

By Seán Hickey

A report claims the failure to quarantine people arriving in the UK during the beginning of the pandemic made the situation worse, David Davis thinks this will push government to act independently.

The former Brexit Secretary was "not surprised" by a report from the Home Affairs Select Committee which said a failure to quarantine people arriving in the country early in the coronavirus pandemic made the UK's situation "far worse."

He told Tom Swarbrick that "you have to do a little more than just listen to the scientists on these things.

"They don't know where the infection's gone any more than you or I do." He went on to suggest that ministers and politicians involved should have been more involved in the decisions being made rather than relying on experts who were still learning new information.

"It would have been a reasonable thing to do to introduce a quarantine requirement," Mr Davis said.

Tom wondered why ministers "didn't take matters into their own hands," during the pandemic's early stages.

The Tory MP told him that no minister faced a situation such as the pandemic before and "they tend to rely very heavily on advisers in the event you don't understand the thing terribly well yourself."

A report found the UK was worse off for not implementing quarantine early in the pandemic
A report found the UK was worse off for not implementing quarantine early in the pandemic. Picture: PA

After the damning findings of the report, Tom asked Mr Davis whether there will be quicker action taken in future. He believed that "there's now going to be a tendency to act the other way," and pandemic policy will be extremely strict.

"When they do impose quarantines like they did in Spain" Mr Davis said, "I would tend to be rather more specific. So for example, don't unnecessarily include the Canaries and the Balearics and so on, be sensible about it."

The former Brexit Secretary believed the common sense of the public will prevail if the government implement very targeted quarantines, rather than shutting down travel from entire countries.

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A Government spokesperson said:

“The Home Affairs Select Committee are incorrect in their assertions. All of our decisions throughout the pandemic have been guided by the science, with appropriate measures introduced at the right time to keep us all safe.

“And with passengers numbers significantly reduced, the scientific advice was clear that quarantine measures for those entering the country from abroad would be most effective when the UK has a lower level of infection. 

“Therefore, as the virus was brought under control here, border measures were introduced on June 8 to protect public health and help avoid a second peak that would overwhelm the NHS.”